Monday, January 4, 2010
BROKEN DISHES AND A COOKING LESSON
In a continuation of yesterday's blog, we left the market place and loaded into a colorful canopied passenger boat into the canal. Again, the contrasts of beautiful teak wood homes built next to tin shacks struck us. The monitor lizard above sunned himself in front of a rich "politicians" house. Panu told us they eat rats. All on the boat agreed the monitor choose the right house. The Thais feel the same way about their politicians as we do, it seems. The canal was built to help prevent flooding. Below we que-ed up to pass through the locks on our way to our home cooked lunch.
Meet Toon, a retired government employee who lives in an expanding compound of family residences and entertains tourists such as we with her engaging personality and authentic Thai cooking. We were introduced to the main herbs and spices used in Thai cooking.
Here fellow travelers, Phyllis Saul and Roberta Berman pound the chilies in a mortar. The dried chilies were soaked for several hours to soften them before grinding.
Then Mason and I were enlisted to grind lemon grass, ginger, shallots, Kaffir lime skin and corriander root into the chili paste.
Sy Shames stirred the paste with oil, then garlic, shrimp paste and chicken broth before the long beans were added. The final seasong Kaffir lime leaf, fish sauce, and sugar. One of the best meals we had on the trip. Fresh, home cooked on an outdoor gas fired wok.
Our next stop was the broken dishes temple. Well, The Temple of Dawn is the correct name. It seems a merchant ordered a load of ceramic dishes from China. When the boat arrived, the load had shifted and much of the order was broken. He sought permission of the king to return the load without payment. The king, before the word public relations was coined, decided it would make everyone unhappy, after all the work and a long journey. The King decided to buy the broken dishes and use them to decorate an old temple that was in need of renovation. I truly love the peaceable philosophy of the Thai. The results below.
Our next stop on the canal was the Royal Barge Museum. These awesome barges are used on cermonial days or any special event. They carry the King, the family or any special dignitary. At one time a new barge was built for every major event. Now, to reduce costs, the barges are used over and over again. Like the temple they are encrusted with broken pieces of glass to add shine along with the gold paint that is typical of temples, gates and anything royal. Beautiful. The prow figures all have special meaning and in olden times were meant to intimidate their enemies in time of war.
Our last stop of the day was the Tailor shop. Here the proprietor shows a sample of a silk jacket. They can be special ordered, measured to fit properly at a reasonable cost. One traveler order two jackets and three pairs of pants. Lovely stuff.
After dinner, our troop visited theBangkok night market. Mason and I were weary and hit the mattress.
The menu and recipe for the Long Bean and Tofu.
Cucumber Soup, Chicken Salad, Stir fried young lufa with egg, Stir fried Chili Paste with Long Bean and Tofu.
5 pieces Dried Chili, 2 Tspns sliced Galangal Ginger,2 Tspns, sliced lemon grass, 1 Tspn Kaffir Lime Skin, 1 Tspn Coriander root, 2 Tspn sliced shallots, 3 Tspn sliced garlic, 1 tsp shrimp aste, 2 Tspns Kaffir Lime Leaf. Follow the directions above and flavor with 2 Tspns fish sauce and 2 Tspns sugar. Add stir fried tofu and serve. Yum.